Jun 12, 2015

Essays in Idleness by Kenko

1283-1350 Japan. Imperial Court. Poet. Buddhist monk in 1324.

He developed the Japanese aesthetic: beauty is indissolubly bound to its perishability. He wrote, "If man were never to fade away like the dews of Adashino, never to vanish like the smoke over Toribeyama, but lingered on forever in this world, how things would lose their power to move us! The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty." He also saw that perfection chokes the immagination, as there is no room for growth.

From entry 10:

"A house, I know, is but a temporary abode, but how delightful it is to find one that has harmonious proportions and a pleasant atmosphere. One feels somehow that even moonlight, when it shines into the quiet domicile of a person of taste, is more affecting than elsewhere. A house though it may not be in the current fashion or elaborately decorated, will appeal to us..."

From entry 21:

"The wind seems to have a special power to move men's hearts."

From entry 26:

"and when I realized that she, as happens in such cases, is steadily slipping away from my world, I feel a sadness greater even than that of separation from the dead. That is why, I am sure, a man once grieved that white thread should be dyed in different colors, and why another lamented that roads inevitably fork."

From entry 81:

"Possessions should look old, not overly elaborate; they need not cost much, but their quality should be good."

From entry 140:

"If you wish something to go to someone after you are dead you should give it to him while you are still alive."

From entry 157:

"If we pick up a brush, we feel like writing; if we hold a musical instrument in our hands, we wish to play music. Lifting a wine cup makes us crave sake; taking up dice, we should like to play backgammon. The mind invariably reacts in this way to any stimulus. That is why we should not indulge even casually in improper amusements."